Affordable Classics: The Chrysler Windsor
The Chrysler Windsor is was a full sized sedan built by the Chrysler Corporation from the late 1930s all the way until the early 1960s. After production ceased in the US in 1961, production continued in Canada for about five more years.
Chrysler’s most affordable automobile in the 1940s was the Royal. The Windsor was the next most affordable auto in the Chrysler line until the Roay was discontinued in 1951. After that, the Windsor remained Chrysler’s most affordable auto until 1961 when the Chrysler Newportwas introduced began being offered for less than the Windsor.
In 1962, the Windsor was replaced with the Chrysler 300, which is still one of Chrysler’s most popular models.
The Early Windsor: 1939 – 1942
The first model of Windsor was produced until 1942. The earliest models were offered with either a short or long wheelbase, that is, the distance between OEM wheels on the front and rear axle. The car was available in many varieties and could seat up to 7 people. A convertible model was also offered. Like all automobile companies in America, Chrysler ceased production of automobiles in 1942 and began war production to help the United States in World War II.
After World War II, the auto manufactures returned to business as usual and Chrysler began production on the Windsor one again. There were not a lot of changes from the original version, the main difference being a new grill. During this time period, the Windsor comprised more than 60% of Chrysler’s sales.
Chrysler redesigned the Windsor in 1949 to align with the company’s 25th birthday. The style they chose was less rounded than pervious Windsors. They also made a few other interior changes during this time period, including an electric clock and a padded dashboard for safety reasons.
Chrysler added new sheet metal and a one piece windshield to their entire product line in 1953, including the Windsor. Apart from that there were not many changes in design. The standard Windsor was dropped from the product line, leaving only the Windsor Deluxe. The grill was updated once again.
Chrysler hired famous automobile designer Virgil Exner to give the Windsor a whole new style.He abandoned the boxier look of the most recently updated Windsor models in favor of a rounded body with wrap around windshields. In 1956 the now famous “Forward Look” was established. This was the first time a Chrysler vehicle featured tail fins. Besides updating the stereo to hi-fi phonograph player, little was added to the interior. The base price for the Windsor Deluxe was now $2,870, which adjusted for inflation would be about 25K in today’s economy.
Once again, the Windsor was restyled. This was a pretty significant update to the aesthetic of the car, and updates were made both inside and out.
The most notable update to the Windsor in 1958, and other Chrysler models as well, was the introduction of Ralph Teetor’s cruise control system, called the “Auto-Pilot” by Chrysler. This was a revolutionary update to both the Windsor and vehicles in general, as only crude speed control systems had been developed in the past.
In 1959, Americans saw the beginning of the “Golden Lion” phase of Chrysler Windsors. The updated wedge-head engines. The engines were referred to as “Golden Lions” and the cars were said to have “Lion Hearts”. The Lion motif was used extensively throughout the advertising efforts of Chrylser and a lion emblem was placed on the body of the car to strengthen the branding effort.
1961 would see the last of the American Windsors. The auto would be continued to be manufactured in Canada for about another five years. The most notable updates to this era are a unibody frame, and a standard cigarette lighter in the interior. The parking brake was also updated. This was also the first Windsor to feature map lights as a standard feature as well.
One of the most popular models for classic car enthusiasts is the mid 50s models. Classic car buyers seem to be fond of the 1955 and 1956 years. You can still find running and great condition mid 50s Windsors in the 10-20K range. If you’re looking for a sweet looking and comfortable classic sedan that is reasonably affordable, consider the Chrysler Windsor. Whatever classic car you end up restoring, don’t forget about our professional bumper rechroming services. Our team of rechroming professionals has years of experience restoring vintage chrome to pristine condition.